The Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta says a lot of the talk about its proposed sex-education curriculum is based on misinformation. Council president Karl Germann says what they’re developing has been misrepresented and used for political gain.
“We’ve seen it before in the math debate, the social studies debate, and now the religion debate, where they become political and nonsensical, because they don’t even accurately report the truth or read what somebody has submitted.”
Germann says representatives from Catholic school districts have been working with Alberta Education for the past year on a resource to go with the province’s new wellness curriculum. A working document was also sent to the province in April, which identified potential concerns.
It was made public through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Edmonton Journal earlier this week. Germann says the biggest misconception so far has been on how it addresses consent.
“If you actually have read the document that we have submitted, it said, ‘consent is always necessary and is the bare minimum for any sexual relationship,’ so for someone to comment and say that Catholics wouldn’t have consent in a sexual relationship would be false and, I would say, defamatory in some ways.”
The CCSSA’s response has come under fire from both Premier Rachel Notley and Education Minister David Eggen. Germann says comments have been made without all of the information, and it’s important to understand that their curriculum would be supplementing what’s put together by the province.
For instance, contraception would be discussed as in every other school, but the choice of abstinence will also be promoted.
“We are going to promote the Church’s teachings and the church does talk about the importance of life, and how it’s important right from conception to the end of somebody’s life and why we try to maintain it, so we are going to have an abstinence approach to some of our work, but there’s [other] approaches that will also be included.”
Germann compares it to the teachings of religion in Catholic schools, in that students learn about others from around the world to be able to compare a number of perspectives. The same would go for sexual orientations, in that different ones would be taught as well as the Catholic view of marriage being between a man and a woman.
“It’s not our job to judge anyone,” Germann says. “We’re just here to talk about what are the different perspectives out there and we’re going to include the Church’s teachings in that.”
The proposed curriculum is expected to be presented to the province next month. Germann says he hopes it doesn’t continue to be a political issue.
Story by Erica Fisher.